Johnny English Reborn

Rowan Atkinson delivers another mildly amusing Bond spoof

Oct 20, 2011 at 4:08 pm
click to enlarge Rowan Atkinson in 'Johnny English Reborn'
Rowan Atkinson in 'Johnny English Reborn'

While it doesn't live up to the quirky physical comedy the incomparable Rowan Atkinson is capable of, this follow-up to his 2003 spy spoof functions well enough as a PG-rated comedy for kids. Atkinson's James Bond knock-off finds himself pulled back into the service of MI7 after spending five soul-searching years in a Tibetan monastery where he has perfected such arcane skills as dragging a large rock by a string tied to his nether region. Upon his return to London, English is shocked to find that Toshiba has taken over corporate control of the top-secret spy agency.

A nod to the Pink Panther films occurs whenever Mozambique comes up in conversation, sending Atkinson's rubbery face into a fit of eye-twitching spasms. Gillian Anderson takes over as MI7's leader, code-named Pegasus. A window ledge incident involving a pussy cat gives rise to one of the film's sillier moments when English mimes holding a feline that might have met with a tragic end.

The movie delivers earnest Rush Hour references when English is sent to Hong Kong with an African British junior-agent assistant named Tucker (Daniel Kaluuya). A chemical weapon called Vortex serves as the story’s driving-plot MacGuffin. Vortex can only be enabled with the use of three keys, each held by a different person whom English must track down before the keys fall into the hands of a MI7 mole. Screenwriter Hamish McColl mixes up a random mishmash of spy movie influences for a sporadically funny comedy that children will appreciate more than adults. Grade: B-

Opens Oct. 21. Check out theaters and show times, see the trailer and get theater details here.